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25th Aug 2021

Unvaccinated pregnant teachers can take sick leave, Minister for Education says

Kat O'Connor

The TUI said unvaccinated pregnant teachers can easily work from home.

Minister for Education Norma Foley says teachers who are under 14 weeks pregnant and unvaccinated are allowed to take sick leave.

She defended the decision for unvaccinated teachers to return to school this September.

“It is the recommendation of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that all pregnant staff are eligible to return to work and then to take the vaccination at 14 weeks,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Foley’s comments come after a teacher’s union called for unvaccinated pregnant staff to work from home.

TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie said unvaccinated teachers are suffering from extreme anxiety and stress, which is not what they need to deal with during pregnancy.

“Pregnancy can be an extremely stressful time and pregnant teachers now have the significant added worry and anxiety of returning to crowded schools and classrooms.”

“Our specific concern, which we have raised forcefully in several engagements with the Department, is for the over those teachers for whom the timing of their pregnancy precludes them from being vaccinated, as they have been advised that they should not receive a vaccine until they are at least 14 weeks pregnant.

“Their return to face-to-face teaching is a departure from the last school year when pregnant teachers were able to work remotely, and this small group of unvaccinated pregnant teachers should be facilitated to work remotely if they wish until they have the same opportunity as their colleagues to acquire significant vaccine protection.”

The TUI said these teachers can easily work from home “without any loss of service to students”.